Around for nearly a decade, the Philadelphia-based experimental rock band mewithoutYou remains musically unclassifiable. Aaron Weiss stands apart with his half-sung, half-spoken lyrics about spirituality and philosophy. The band's fourth full-length album It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright released in 2009 was well-received by critics, threatening to break one of the underground's best kept secrets.
After last night, the secret may be out. Manhattan welcomed mewithoutYou to the Bowery Ballroom for a show originally scheduled at Webster Hall. The switch in venue did not divert a crowd of dedicated fans.
The eclectic audience buzzed against the dim lighting before the first act. Buried Beds and Murder By Death opened the show, both delivering solid, unique performances from one another.
The Ballroom filled with people before mewithoutYou took the stage just before 10p.m. Front-man Aaron Weiss, brother and guitar player Michael Weiss, bass player Greg Jehanian and drummer Richard Mazzotta enter the stage with high energy; immediately diving into the fast-paced spoken lyrics of "Messes of Men" off their 2006 album, Brother, Sister.
"She couldn't help but sing, she couldn't help but sing," Weiss repetitively sung during their second song "Goodbye, I!" The crowd swayed and sung along, captivated by Weiss' eccentric, spastic stage presence. A multi-instrumentalist, Weiss switches from guitar to tambourine to trumpet.
The ambient fluttering guitar marked the intro of "A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains" another track off the album Brother, Sister. Weiss wailed and muttered, his right hand on the microphone. His left hand held and danced with a full bouquet of multicolored flowers, a strange sight to see.
The crowd finally heard a few words between songs. "Good Evening...there are so many beautiful and familiar faces here tonight," Weiss endearingly told the crowd.
Weiss' rapid guitar strumming on "Bullet to the Binary (Part Two)" was coupled with a constant and swift drum backbeat. The crowd sung in unison as the song lead up to the powerfully hypnotic lyrics "so why not, let's forgive everyone everywhere everything all the time", sung over and over.
MewithoutYou has a talent for intriguing a crowd with their unusual energy and sporadic melodic explosions. Other highlights from the set included the passionate ballad "Timmy Hay". With Weiss on accordion, the entire song continued with heavy instrumentation.
Shortly after, Weiss sang, screeched (and admitted) to the crowd "I'm still (eh technically) a virgin after 27-years" during the song "C-Minor". The band switched to a friendlier tone with "The Fox, The Crow and The Cookie", as Weiss childishly danced and jumped around the flickering stage.
The lights flashed blue and white as the heavy track "January 1979" riveted the audience. Clearly a fan favorite, Weiss screamed from his stomach while he blindfolded himself with a white towel. The live version is a triumphant replica of the recorded track.
Overall, the band mixes high-energy, with screams and whispers, some songs standing like post-hardcore lullabies. MewithoutYou closed with "Torches Together" and "In a Sweater Poorly Knit", which ended the 2-hour set with members from opening bands joining in on the sing-along.
MewithoutYou entranced the Bowery with a musical performance that possessed an eerie calm amidst the chaos.